Synaesthesia: Hearing Colors, Tasting Music and What Not

The individuals who experience synaesthesia are able to hear and taste colors, or associate colors with letters, numbers, and even music. I for one had no clue that something like this exists. This condition empowers you to have more than one sense simultaneously. About 200 years prior, scientists got acquainted with it, with 96% of its audience who didn’t accept the concept.

Grapheme-color synaesthesia is when people perceive something written as having a certain color and even a personality. For instance, the green colour associates the letter X. Another sort is chromesthesia, which is when someone can experience colours as a result of sound. Did you know that Richard Feynman (Nobel Prize-winning physicist) had synaesthesia?

Going more profound, synaesthesia can be conceptual or perceptual depending on the location of gene expression. Expression of the gene in the fusiform gyrus can cause Perceptual Synaesthesia. Similarly, with the expression of the gene in the angular gyrus, Conceptual Synaesthesia occurs.

But, the condition is extremely rare and lacks accurate data for a thoroughly study. However, according to Sir Simon Baron-Cohen, ‘overabundance of neural connections’ or genetics can create this condition. A proposal says that everyone is born with the brain structure to facilitate synaesthesia, however, these ‘neural connections’ become lost to most of the population during development.

That means, the brain of people with synaesthesia is different but surely not in a problematic way. The white matter, which connects different regions together, in the brains of people with synaesthesia is organised differently.

Synaesthesia is termed as a disorder, but does it really belong there? It’s more like having a superpower, which you too can have. Yes! It can be induced too. Someone who suffers from neural damage may permanently experience synaesthesia, someone who takes drugs/hallucinogens can have it temporarily. The aim is to create a mental link between a certain stimulus and a synaesthetic response.

Some people see colored auras around people. Can be synaesthesia in its most mystical forms. The physical properties of the face, person mood or character traits may trigger the aura as well. 

I hope that with advancing technology, we get to know more about and unveil more mysteries.

References:

  1. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/long_reads/synaesthesia-sound-taste-health-science-brain-a7996766.html#:~:text=Synaesthesia%20is%20a%20neurological%20trait,hear%20colour%20or%20see%20sund.
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/apr/27/benefit-synaesthesia-brain-injury-mental-decline
  3. https://www.sussex.ac.uk/synaesthesia/faq
  4. Image reference: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/6f/8a/58/6f8a58d04c0082771224ac49c6b778a0.jpg
  5. Image reference: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/6f/8a/58/6f8a58d04c0082771224ac49c6b778a0.jpg

About the author

Shruti Mandal, a sophomore of IISER Kolkata is ongoing her BS-MS course, in the department of biological sciences. She likes to introduce herself as a – ‘Jack of all trades, master of none ‘. She is a regular writer at The Qrius Rhino and you can find all her blogs here.

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